Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Health Services Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Healthcare providers’ knowledge, experience and challenges of reporting adverse events following immunisation: a qualitative study

Adriana Parrella12*, Annette Braunack-Mayer3, Michael Gold1, Helen Marshall1 and Peter Baghurst1

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Paediatrics, School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

2 Discipline of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

3 School of Population Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:313  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-313

Published: 15 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Healthcare provider spontaneous reporting of suspected adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) is central to monitoring post-licensure vaccine safety, but little is known about how healthcare professionals recognise and report to surveillance systems. The aim of this study was explore the knowledge, experience and attitudes of medical and nursing professionals towards detecting and reporting AEFI.

Methods

We conducted a qualitative study, using semi-structured, face to face interviews with 13 Paediatric Emergency Department consultants from a tertiary paediatric hospital, 10 General Practitioners, 2 local council immunisation and 4 General Practice nurses, recruited using purposive sampling in Adelaide, South Australia, between December 2010 and September 2011. We identified emergent themes related to previous experience of an AEFI in practice, awareness and experience of AEFI reporting, factors that would facilitate or impede reporting and previous training in vaccine safety. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results

AEFI reporting was infrequent across all groups, despite most participants having reviewed an AEFI. We found confusion about how to report an AEFI and variability, according to the provider group, as to the type of events that would constitute a reportable AEFI. Participants’ interpretation of a “serious” or “unexpected” AEFI varied across the three groups. Common barriers to reporting included time constraints and unsatisfactory reporting processes. Nurses were more likely to have received formal training in vaccine safety and reporting than medical practitioners.

Conclusions

This study provides an overview of experience and beliefs of three healthcare professional groups in relation to identifying and reporting AEFI. The qualitative assessment reveals differences in experience and awareness of AEFI reporting across the three professional groups. Most participants appreciated the importance of their role in AEFI surveillance and monitoring the ongoing safety of vaccines. Future initiatives to improve education, such as increased training to health care providers, particularly, medical professionals, are required and should be included in both undergraduate curricula and ongoing, professional development.

Keywords:
Adverse event following immunisation (AEFI), Surveillance; Healthcare provider; Reporting; Qualitative